“- Wake up, Killer. You’re going to miss your flight.” Ray shook Toby awake. Where was he? Oh, his hut at Luxeuil airfield. Mulberry was slowly starting to remember the events from yesterday. It was supposed to be a routine patrol, except for the three Fokkers that met them face on. The flight was scattered and Toby had a one on one fight with the green Eindecker. He is still alive, so that means the green Hun had lost. He was on his way back to the closest aerodrome when he was pounced by two more Eindeckers. The odds were against him and he was definitely running away, but the Fokkers were quicker and would catch up with him. Toby hoped to at least drag them over the field to get some help from the Archie, but it looked like Huns would get him before he could get there. They were now directly behind him and he couldn’t see them anymore. Toby imagined the German pilots laughing out loud at his feeble escape attempt. He could feel them leaning forward to line their eyes with the crosshairs of their guns. He sensed them fondling their triggers. “- That’s enough! I’m not going to be shot in the back.” Toby made his choice and that choice was to fight. He put the Strutter into a steep bank and turned around to face his foes. They weren’t there. He looked around. A tan shape flashed in the corner of his eye and disappeared behind him. Darn it, they were still on his tail. He pulled the control column hard into his stomach, his Strutter began to creak again. He saw the Eindecker turn with him, then he saw something else: two guns on the Fokker’s deck. Jesus Christ! It’s an E.IV! He was as good as dead! Where was the other Hun? He took a quick look around. The other Eindecker was nowhere to be seen. Was he above them, just waiting to swoop down and take his turn? He then saw him. The Hun was flying away back home. He must have abandoned the chase when Mulberry couldn’t see them at his rear. That made Toby’s demise that much less certain. The Eindecker tried something different. He dove, hoping the Strutter would follow, but just at that moment, just when Toby was about to make that mistake and push the stick forward, he remembered something someone said some time ago, somewhere. “- Always above, never below ... yada yada yada.” He didn’t remember the rest, or who’d said it. Why did he even remember it now? He eased up on the controls and kept his machine above the Fokker. To keep him in view he had to bank his plane from side to side. When the Fokker flew underneath, he would switch his bank to the other side. The German pilot realized his mistake and attempted to climb to Toby’s altitude, but as soon as he did that, Mulberry had him in his sights and firing. The Fokker jokey had no choice but to dive back down again. This continued for a significant while, but it was to the British pilot’s advantage. Sooner or later some other plane will arrive and relieve him. The Hun must have realized that too and after a few maneuvers he disengaged and took a direct route back home. Toby was waiting for that. He dove on the helpless German and sent volley after volley his way. One of them caught the pilot in the back. Mulberry watched the German slump in his cockpit and then the entire machine dive into the ground below. They were over the No-Man’s Land again and Toby was in no mood to meet any more Huns today. He took his bird back south and towards Xaffervillers. It took the rest of the day to repair his plane and fly back to Luxeuil. The news of a confirmed kill came late last night. It was for the E.IV, the green Fokker remained unconfirmed as it was shot down behind enemy lines.
This morning no one seemed to remember his name. Everyone called him “Killer”. Toby wasn’t sure it was a term of endearment. Himself and two more Flight Sub-Lieutenants were selected to fly another arty spotting mission. This time directly east, all the way past Belfort. Toby didn’t even know the Front stretched this far. They called it the “Mission to Italy”, although it was an outright lie. His biggest surprise came when he was selected to lead the flight. As he flew over the Vosges mountain range followed by FSL John E Sharman and FSL George Gordon MacLennan he continued to wonder: “- Why me?” His roommate Ray offered earlier an explanation. “- Because you are the Killer.” It wasn’t the best explanation, but it was better than: “- The leader gets attacked first.” The view of the mountains was staggering. With the sun providing perfect lighting conditions it felt more like a tourist excursion rather than a military expedition. They’ve arrived over the front and despite this being the “quiet” sector, they could see explosions of artillery shells falling on their targets. It was quiet in the air and after taking care of the business the flight returned back home. Toby could get used to this kind of war.
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."